January 16th, 2021

Fighting an unseen enemy

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on March 18, 2020.

Just as older Canadians weathered the Second World War, we will

get through

the COVID-19 crisis

Canadians have, on rare occasions, had to worry about the possibility of an enemy breaching our border. It happened during the War of 1812, a conflict with the United States during which raids from the south did occur on Canadian soil.

The Second World War raised fears of invasion on both coasts, and the Cold War prompted worries of a nuclear conflict between the U.S. and Soviet Union spilling over into Canada. The 9-11 terrorist attacks created new fears of strikes against Canadian targets.

Now Canadians are dealing with a new enemy, one made all the more frightening because we can’t see it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upset the normal routines of Canadians, just as it did for those who lived through the Second World War. At that time, food rationing became a reality for Canadians because food was being sent overseas to feed soldiers and to assist Britain. The rationing affected staples such as sugar, coffee, tea, butter and, by 1943, meat as well.

Present Canadians are feeling something akin to that as a result of hoarding of certain items by people panicked by the COVID-19 situation. Many store shelves have been emptied of items such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer, even though officials have tried to ensure Canadians that supply chains are still operating fully and there’s no need to worry about shortages. Ironically, the hoarders are creating the very shortages they fear. A calm and reasoned approach will ensure everyone has access to needed items.

For those of us who weren’t around during the Second World War, this disruption to our daily life is something most of us haven’t experienced, and it’s stressful. A big reason for the stress is the unseen enemy. We can’t be sure where it is or where it will strike next. That is understandably scary.

But we can take comfort in the fact that steps are being taken to combat the foe. We can’t see the enemy but we have sufficient intel to know what we need to do, and not do. We have weapons to use in our defence such as hygiene measures and reducing opportunities for the virus to spread by halting large public gatherings. We have learned lessons from previous pandemics such as the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, so we are much better prepared to minimize the impact of this latest threat.

We have faced great challenges in the past. Our parents, or grandparents, or great-grandparents, depending on our own ages, have weathered trying storms before, so we know it can be done. It will be accomplished by everyone staying focused on the task at hand and pulling together, just as those from the Second World War generation did during their long trial by fire.

Even as precautions call upon us to keep our distance from one another, we can remain united. That’s the key that will best guide us through this crisis.

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